Q&A with the rock 'n blues guys of Lucero
MOVE: What is the inspiration behind 1372 Overton Park?
Ben Nichols: “Overall, we wanted the record to have a Memphis feel to it, a Memphis sound. There was a lot of old soul music that we'd been listening to, Otis Redding, things like that. And we had this horn section that we'd been lucky enough to find, and once you added the horns to the songs I think the goal was accomplished. It was something we had never done before. Memphis soul was the inspiration for the album.”
Brian Venable: “I think we were trying to to stretch out for a few songs, and the horns made it what we wanted. Memphis history has a lot that kind of stuff. We're rock kids and blues guys...we just want to be part of that.”
MOVE: Horns have a prominent presence on 1372 Overton Park, an extension of Memphis music, one of the inspirations for the album.
Ben Venable: “I wanted at least one song to have horns, and John Stubblefield, our bass player, knew a horn player who brought in all the demos. We grew up listening to Rocket from the Crypt, and rock bands with horns that weren't necessarily horn bands. He started putting them (horns) down on every song, and that's when it came alive for us. It was like, 'Holy crap, we just made our version of a soul record!' It gave us a point to shoot for in recording. It worked amazing.”
MOVE: 1372 Overton Park is your first release on a major record label. What prompted the shift to a major label?
Brian Venable: “We just gave it a shot. We've done everything else. At some point you're like, 'Maybe we'll get better distribution, maybe we'll get our name out more.' Their (Universal/Republic) deal was just as good as some of the other deals, we thought we'd give it a shot.”
MOVE: What is the story behind the album title?
Ben Nichols: “It's a place where we all used to live. We used to live together for a number of years, and rehearse there, practice there, live there. It was a cheap place to keep all of our stuff when we were out on the road. It was a way for us to consolidate expenses.”
MOVE: What are you most proud of on this record?
Ben Nichols: “I think it's the most well-produced record we've done. Just the sound quality, the recording itself is the best recording we've got.”
Brian Venable: “Our producer forced us out of our comfort zone, so to speak. It made for a more exciting record.”
MOVE: What was the writing process like for 1372 Overton Park?
Ben Nichols: “Usually I'll start with a couple of guitar parts and a vocal melody and then get a skeleton of a song and bring it to the band, and everyone will flesh it out from there. We'll work on it and it slowly develops and takes shape. Words are usually last. It usually takes a long time to write good words, unless you get real lucky. But, usually lyrics take a lot of work.”
MOVE: How has your music evolved since forming Lucero in 1998?
Ben Nichols: “We started off wanting to be a soft, quiet country band, and just over the years a bunch of different influences have come and gone. And I think over the years we've evolved into a rock 'n' roll band. We can play big loud songs, we can play soft, quiet songs; we can get away with both of them.”
Brian Venable: “We are comfortable with our own influences. We're Lucero and we can do whatever we want.”
MOVE: What has been the most challenging part of making this album?
Ben Nichols: “Figuring out how to do the songs live. We started off just me and him (Brian), and with the last tour, we had nine musicians on stage; so the band's grown into a nine-piece band, so just organizing all that. It worked out a lot easier than I thought it would. We had them (horn section) on the big fall tour when the record was released. Having that many people on the road is more expensive...They'll be on certain shows in the future, but you never know what you're going to get.”
Brian Venable: "We had to rent out a recording studio to learn how to play it all together, and then we had to rent out an actual venue to figure out where we were going to putting everybody."